Love for comics and the community: Destiny City Comics
Professional wrestler and store owner of Destiny City Comics, Ethan HD, talks about the inclusive nature of his store for customers, authors, and artists.
Professional wrestler and store owner, Ethan HD, spoke with the Ledger about Destiny City Comics; an LGBTQ+ and Black friendly comic book shop in Tacoma. With this comic book store, he hopes to create and uphold a welcoming environment for his community.
“Destiny City Comics opened up on Oct. 31 of 2014. My wife Stephanie and I took over the shop on Dec. 1 of 2019. I just really liked the shop and what it did for the community and we wanted to keep that ball rolling,” HD said.
Although HD loves comics, he never intended to own a comic book store. However, he has always wanted to contribute to causes for his community. Independently, HD and his wife raised money for causes they believed in. But with the store, they’ve been able to do a lot more than what they were able to do on their own.
“A couple of months ago we donated $300 worth of books to the children’s hospital in Tacoma. We have been able to fill local libraries with books and we actively donate to GLSEN [Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network], an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ with a chapter in Tacoma,” he said.
This support is also seen in their prominent features of LGBTQ+ and Black authors and comics. To Destiny City Comics, they don’t only bring these authors and books out on specific months like Black history month or pride month. They are prominently shown year round.
On top of this, HD is very proud of the support they provide for local and regional authors. They have a special shelf in their shop for local authors, artists and self-published work. They don’t hide these away either; they proudly show them for all Tacomans to see.
“We buy a few copies from the author and if they sell, we’ll go ahead and reach out. We like to put that money into their pockets and if it sells, we’ll buy more. We invest money into these artists, and this incentivizes us to push this art,” HD said.
As much as comic book stores like Destiny City Comics help the community, the books themselves can help readers. To HD, graphic novels make a lot of subjects more accessible to those who don’t want to read books with hundreds of pages. Old books or autobiographies made into graphic novels help readers understand the situations better.
“A lot of times the imagery can help set the tone and give you a feeling and gravity about what’s going on. I think when you can put a face to things or you have visual aids it helps you imagine. It’s tough to tell a kid to close their eyes and picture the 1940s,” he said.
For HD, having these visual aids for people and giving them an understanding of what this past looked like resonates with people more. This is what Destiny City Comics wants to promote. A level of understanding for other people. Customers know that they aren’t going to be ostracized. Which is what many were feeling during the pandemic.
From March until June, they were closed to the public. Everything was online or pick ups only and people couldn’t browse. They were living off of Marvel and DC comics. But it eventually helped them in the long run. HD realized they could market anywhere since they were mail only.
“I would post our inventory non-stop on our social media. And we ended up getting a lot of customers from across the country. Even after things opened up again, we retained these people as customers. In a weird way, we’re kind of better for it,” HD said.
Plus, HD believes that since they survived a global pandemic after only being open for four months, they’re prepared for anything that comes their way. And with this, they look towards future prospects and goals.
Destiny City Comics looks to uplift their community with the events they hold. In particular, HD hopes to have another local artists and crafts fair. Equally, they would love to host some autograph signings with wrestlers. In addition, HD is looking towards possible employment options for folks.
“I would like to get a couple of employees. I want it to be a pseudo-mentorship for people who are interested in owning their own business or their own comic book store. I’d like to use the store as a platform to give people skills to branch off and do their own thing,” he said.
There’s a lot that HD wants to provide and share with his community. Whether that encompasses events, skills or simply helping people find a new interest. The world of comics is expansive and as with anything, there are some that stand out as best sellers.
“Octavia Butler’s ‘Parable of the Sower’ sells really well. The graphic novel adaptation of ‘Dune’; that’s been one that sells really well. George Takei’s ‘They Called Us Enemy’ is something we have to just always keep in stock,” HD said.
These titles among many others are some of the customers favorites at Destiny City Comics. However, a favorite comic book of HD’s is the ‘Ms. Marvel’ series starring the fictional superhero named Kamala Khan.
“For those who want to get into comics and don’t know where to start, I recommend ‘Paper Girls.’ It’s easy to read and reminds me of the show, ‘Stranger Things.’ Equally, ‘X-Men’ and ‘Spider Gwen’ are good series for those getting back into comic books,” he said.
To those with or without experience in the world of comics, Destiny City Comics has a wide variety of things to offer. Whether you’re a part of the Tacoma community or not, they are a place you can turn to to seek out your interests, in an environment that aims to be inviting and accepting to all.
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